HomeTechHow to Use Your Digital Camera as a Webcam

How to Use Your Digital Camera as a Webcam


Whether your work-from-home routine involves lots of video calls or you want to jump in on the video game streaming trend, it’s important to look your best.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your appearance is to upgrade from the grainy, low-quality camera on your laptop to a dedicated webcam. But before you go out and buy yet another device, you should try using a DSLR or mirrorless camera if you have one.

Although most older (and some recent) cameras require some sort of software to connect to your computer as a webcam, an increasing number now support plug-and-play compatibility via the USB Video Class (UVC) standard. USB Audio Class (UAC) support, which goes hand-in-hand, means the camera mic works for video calls, too. The latter is less important here though since most cameras have poor mics. Unless you have a made-for-vlogging camera, you still need a USB mic to sound your best.

Whatever type of hardware you have, we cover all your bases below. Just one general note: Compatibility with the latest macOS versions seems to be less reliable than for Windows, so you could try Apple’s legacy video devices fix if you experience an issue with any of the below methods.


For Cameras With UVC Support

OM System OM-1 Mark II, front angle

The OM System OM-1 Mark II has UVC/UAC Support (Credit: Jim Fisher)

Almost every digital camera has a USB port that lets you connect it directly to your computer. That said, since UVC support is a relatively recent arrival to dedicated cameras, the vast majority of those now specifically have a USB-C port. We haven’t come across a dedicated camera without a USB-C port and with UVC, so that’s generally a good indicator of support. Of course, not all cameras with a USB-C port have UVC.

As mentioned UVC support means you don’t need extra software to use your camera as a webcam via a web browser, video conferencing app, or streaming software. Modern Windows and macOS machines support at least some version of UVC out-of-the-box, so the process of getting up and running is pretty easy:

  1. Look for and confirm the UVC spec on the official listing of your camera. We note whether a camera supports this standard in our reviews.

  2. Plug one end of a compatible USB data cable into the camera and the other into your computer. Depending on your camera, you need to select the appropriate USB mode (often called Webcam or Tethering) on your camera either before or after this step. Consult your manual for the specific sequence of events.

  3. After you launch your video meeting app or streaming platform of choice, choose your connected camera as the video source in the preferences section. If you wish to use its mic, choose it as the audio source.

  4. To make any changes to the video settings, simply do so on the camera itself.


For Cameras Without UVC/UAC Support

If your camera doesn’t support the UVC protocol, using it as a webcam isn’t quite as seamless, but is still very doable. You just have to rely on manufacturer software for the connection. Some manufacturers seem to push first-party webcam software for their latest cameras, whereas others are moving away from such solutions in favor of UVC. Here are the steps:

  1. Download the correct software for your camera. We detail the options from the most popular camera manufacturers below and provide a link to the download.

  2. Plug your camera into your computer via a compatible USB data cable and select the correct USB connection mode on your camera (often called Webcam or Tethering). The specific order of events varies from camera to camera, so it’s worth checking documentation if you run into issues here.

  3. After you launch your video meeting app or streaming platform of choice, choose your connected camera as the video source in the preferences section. If you wish to use your camera’s mic and the software does not restrict you from doing so (many do), choose it as the audio source.

  4. Some manufacturers restrict what changes you can make on your camera, whereas others build them into the software for easier control. Again, consult documentation if a change you make interrupts the streaming connection.


Canon EOS Webcam Utility

The EOS Webcam Utility Pro is available for systems running macOS version Monterey, Ventura, and Sonoma or Windows 10 and 11. Note that whereas older versions of this software weren’t compatible with Apple Silicon hardware or Safari, Canon says this latest version supports both use cases.

The software works with a long list of SLR and mirrorless Canon cameras, as well as a few fixed-lens models. Canon details all of the supported bodies at the above link, but make sure to check the footnotes for all the details. You won’t find support for your PowerShot Elph, but Canon does a good job of including older cameras.

Both free and paid versions ($4.99 per month or $49.99 per year) of the software are available. The free tier lets you stream at up to 720p, but a subscription unlocks 1080p/60fps streaming, support for up to five simultaneous camera feeds, and direct camera control from the software. For all the version differences, check out Canon’s comparison chart on the software’s download page.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II supports the Canon EOS Webcam Utility (Credit: Jim Fisher)


Fujifilm X Webcam

Fujifilm’s X Webcam app supports Macs with High Sierra or later and PCs running Windows 10 or 11. Fujifilm claims compatibility with Sonoma, though it has published a list of known issues.

The software works with many higher-end X and GFX system cameras, including from a few generations prior. You can see the full list of compatible models on the above-linked download page. Notable omissions are the X-S20, X-T5, X-H2S, and GFX 100 II, all of which support UVC.

The software is free to download and lets you lock focus, control exposure, use a film simulation mode, set the white balance, and more.


Nikon Webcam Utility

Nikon’s Webcam Utility software works with systems running macOS Big Sur, Monterey, and Ventura or 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and 11. Nikon lists some compatibility issues with Sonoma, so you might not have a smooth experience with it if that’s your OS of choice.

Most recent Nikon SLRs and Z mirrorless cameras support the pass-through software, but it has several limitations (such as a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels and a frame rate between 10 and 15 fps) that Nikon outlines in the Notes of the Product Description section on the utility’s download page. The company does not offer a paid version of its software, unlike Canon.


OM System D Webcam Beta

The OM System Webcam Beta Software is available for computers running macOS High Sierra through Monterey and Windows machines on version 10 or 11. It works only with a few premium models, but the OM-1 Mark II is notably absent from the list because it supports UVC. This free software doesn’t provide any options in the way that Canon’s does and is more to ensure interoperability.


Panasonic Lumix Webcam Software (Beta)

The latest version of the free Panasonic Lumix Webcam Software (Beta) supports machines with macOS Monterey or Ventura, as well as with 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and 11. The download page lists all the compatible cameras, including the S5 II and G9 II. This free software does not offer any adjustable settings.

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Sony Imaging Edge Webcam

Sony’s free solution, Imaging Edge Webcam, works with computers running macOS Big Sur, Monterey, and Ventura or 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and 11. It does not currently support macOS Sonoma.

Many newer Sony cameras, including the a9 III and a7R V, are compatible but also include UVC support, so the software is redundant in those cases. It’s better for slightly older cameras, including the a7R IV and a7 III. Compatibility extends to select fixed-lens RX cameras and even some late A-mount SLT series bodies. You can view the full list at the top of the download page.

Just be aware that you have to initially put some cameras in Auto mode before connecting the camera to your computer and switching to Movie mode. You also can’t use the Cinematic Vlog or XAVC S-I DCI 4K settings for any camera model. Again, there are no extra features here.

Sony a9 III

The Sony a9 III supports Sony’s Imaging Edge Webcam software (Credit: Jim Fisher)


Third-Party Hardware Options

If you have a camera that doesn’t support UVC or work with a first-party manufacturer app your computer supports, you do have a hardware alternative: HDMI video capture adapters. To use them, you just need to make sure that you can output a video signal from your camera via HDMI. To test this, plug your camera into your TV or monitor and see if there’s a picture. Also, importantly, check if you can turn off distracting user interface elements from the video signal. Most interchangeable-lens models with HDMI can output a so-called clean signal, but it’s worth verifying.

The actual setup is simple:

  1. Purchase a video capture adapter such as the Elgato Cam Link 4K (99.99) or the Blackmagic Atem Mini ($295) that bridges the gap between HDMI and USB.

  2. Connect it to the USB port of your Mac or PC.

  3. Plug one end of an HDMI cable into your camera and the other into the adapter.

  4. After you launch your video meeting or streaming service of choice, choose your connected camera as the video source in the preferences section.

  5. To make any changes to the video settings, simply do so on the camera itself.

This method requires you to spend more money, but any of these accessories could be a better investment than a standalone webcam if you already have a quality camera. Arguably, it’s a more seamless process than dealing with manufacturer software that is likely to have more limitations on resolution and frame rate.


More Webcam Advice

Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 Contemporary, front

Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 Contemporary (Credit: Jim Fisher)

Once you get connected, here are a few additional pointers to help your video meetings and streaming sessions go smoothly.

  1. Just like with a webcam, you should position your camera in such a way that it frames you favorably and captures you straight-on. Consider setting it up on a tripod or other type of support system.

  2. The types of cameras that are most likely to support UVC are also likely to have advanced video autofocus systems, so you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect focus distance like you do with a simpler, fixed-focus webcam. Make sure to enable it for the best results. Of course, you could always go manual with a dedicated camera, if you want.

  3. Be aware that some lenses are better for video than others. Find one with a wide-enough angle to present you naturally. Additionally, a lens with a bright aperture can gather more light for noise-free image quality and create the optical bokeh effect.

If your digital camera doesn’t support any of the above methods and you don’t want a dedicated device, remember that you can turn your smartphone into a wireless webcam, too. The best camera phones are more than up to the task. Many action cameras, including from GoPro and DJI, have webcam functionality as well.

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